The sexual grooming of children in the UK is a much bigger problem than has previously been recognised, the government has said.

The children's minister, Tim Loughton, announced that an action plan will be launched to tackle child sexual exploitation, which experts say involves British children as young as 10 being trafficked for sex around the UK.

"This isn't something that has just appeared, but the extent of it hasn't been recognised and we are underestimating the problem," Loughton said on Tuesday. "The cleverer we are about it, the more horrified we are likely to be by what we discover."

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